OH SO CLOSE FOR CIGANDA
Carlota Ciganda surely did her best to put pressure on Nasa Hataoka throughout Sunday’s final round. The Spaniard returned a bogey-free 68, never seeming to falter during her trip round Seta Golf Club. When Hataoka stumbled on the back nine, the steady Ciganda saw her name join Hataoka’s at the top of the leaderboard, but the Japanese teen was able to drop in two birdies over the closing holes to claim the victory.
“It’s golf and she played great,” said Ciganda. “Very happy for her to win in her country and many congratulations.”
The runner-up finish wraps up a successful Asian swing for Ciganda, who is not in the field for next week’s Blue Bay LPGA. She did not finish worse than 11th over the last four weeks, with her finish in Japan highlighting the schedule.
“I like playing in Asia and I think I’ve been very consistent every week,” said Ciganda, whose first of two LPGA victories came in the Republic of Korea in 2016. “I’ve been close many times. I just think I have to keep doing the same.”
NOT LEE’S DAY
It certainly was not a round to remember for second-round leader Minjee Lee. The Australian started the day with a three-stroke lead over her nearest competitor. She quickly derailed, carding back-to-back bogeys at Nos. 3 and 4. She tacked on double bogeys at holes 7 and 8, and closed out the front nine with another bogey at No. 9.
“I don't know, maybe a lot of brain farts in a row,” said Lee, who added a birdie on the back nine but ultimately fell into a tie for 15th at -7. “I didn't hit the shots that I wanted very solid, so obviously it didn't go the way I wanted.”
Rolex Rankings No. 16 Nasa Hataoka (66-69-67, -14)
Hataoka was playing in her second TOTO Japan Classic; she finished T33 in her debut in 2017
She hit 10 of 14 fairways and 15 of 18 greens, with 28 putts
This was Hataoka’s 23rd event of the 2018 season; she won the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship presented by P&G and has eight other top-10 finishes, including a playoff loss at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship
Hataoka is the fourth multiple winner of the 2018 LPGA Tour season, joining Ariya Jutanugarn (three wins), Sung Hyun Park (three wins) and Brooke Henderson (two wins)
Hataoka is the sixth player of the 2018 season to win in her home country, joining Marina Alex (USA), In Gee Chun (Republic of Korea), Georgia Hall (England), Brooke Henderson (Canada) and Annie Park (USA)
Rolex Rankings No. 87 Momoko Ueda (69-67-68, -12)
Ueda was playing in her 11th TOTO Japan Classic; she won in 2007 and 2011 and has two other top-10 finishes
She hit 9 of 14 fairways and 8 of 18 greens, with 22 putts
Ueda plays full-time on the JLPGA Tour; this was her 28th event of the 2018 season, with a best finish of second at the Yonex Ladies Golf Tournament
Ueda held LPGA Membership from 2008 to 2013
Rolex Rankings No. 21 Carlota Ciganda (68-68-68, -12)
Ciganda was playing in her first TOTO Japan Classic
She hit 9 of 14 fairways and 16 of 18 greens, with 30 putts
This was Ciganda’s 24th event of the 2018 season; she has seven top-10 finishes, with a runner-up showing at the Thornberry Creek LPGA Classic
Rolex Rankings No. 141 Saki Nagamine (68-68-68, -12)
Nagamine was playing in her second TOTO Japan Classic; she finished T65 in 2016
She hit 12 of 14 fairways and 15 of 18 greens, with 29 putts
Nagamine plays full-time on the JLPGA Tour; this was her 33rd event of the 2018 season, with a win at the Fujisankei Ladies Classic
Megan Khang and Jennifer Song (T11) were the leading American players
The top 10 comprised three countries – Japan, Spain and the Republic of Korea
Two-time defending champion Shanshan Feng finished T30 at -4
CME GROUP CARES WEEKENDS EAGLES
CME Group Cares Weekends is a season-long charitable giving program that turns eagles into donations. For each eagle recorded during weekend play (Saturday and Sunday) throughout the 2018 LPGA Tour season, CME Group donates $1,000 to the program’s total donation count. At the season-ending CME Group Tour Championship, the stakes are even higher, as the donation has been raised to a generous $5,000 per eagle. The money raised will go toward a charitable pool and be split evenly between Wounded Warrior Project® and Bright Pink®.
The weekend at the TOTO Japan Classic did not have any eagles. Overall, the program has raised $284,000 in 2018.